Land Use Hearings For East Side Resiliency Plan Happening This Month

Rendering: NYC resiliency presentation.

Rendering: NYC resiliency presentation.

There are a couple of opportunities this month to participate in the public review process for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.

As you may know, the city’s plan to protect the Lower East Side from future storms on the scale of Hurricane Sandy has been met with heavy criticism. Many local residents are unhappy about proposed changes to East River Park (the vital recreational area would be closed for 3-5 years and be almost completely reconstructed and raised several feet).

On Tuesday, June 11 there will be a Community Board 3 ULURP hearing. The project is just beginning its path through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The meeting of CB3’s parks committee takes place at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 188, 442 East Houston St. You can read the ULURP application here.

A second meeting (the regularly scheduled monthly Parks Committee session) will take place Thursday June 13, 6:30 p.m. at Henry Street Settlement, 301 Henry St. Both meetings will address, among other issues, the acquisition of/access to privately owned land along the proposed flood barrier, from Montgomery Street up to 23rd Street.

In addition to these formal hearings, there are two open houses hosted by city officials this week. The first is Wednesday, June 5, 4-8 p.m. The other is Thursday, June 6 2-8 p.m. Both sessions will be held at Peter Cooper Village, 360 1st Avenue (entrance on 21st Street). More details here.

“High Water Mark” Sign Installed at Pier 35

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Across the city during the past week, local residents marked the five year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in many different ways. On Friday. NYC public officials and community leaders gathered at Pier 35 (near Clinton Street) for the unveiling of a “High Water Mark” sign.

Signs have been put up in various areas throughout New York to raise awareness of the growing flood risk. The program is sponsored by FEMA and administered by the NYC Office of Emergency Preparedness, with cooperation from the Economic Development Corp. A local group, Friends of Pier 35, led a campaign for the installation of a high water mark sign on the Lower East Side.

The sign reads:

October 29, 2012: On this day, Hurricane sandy brought a storm surge of 5 feet to this area as indicated by the red line below.

On Friday, NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito said, “This sign is here to remind everyone about the life-threatening storm surge we experienced when Hurricane Sandy hit and to urge New Yorkers to stay prepared should another storm hit.” City Council member Margaret Chin and State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh also attended the event.

As we have reported, the city’s multi-million dollar plan to create flood barriers along the East River has been pushed back. Construction was supposed to begin this past summer but is now anticipated to start in 2019.

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East River Flood Protection Plan Scaled Back; Bridges to Park Eliminated

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During the summer, NY1 reported that plans for a flood barrier along the East River had been scaled back and that construction was being delayed. Now, just ahead of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, WNYC has more details about the shrinking plan to protect the Lower East Side from future storms.

In a story airing today, WNYC reports that “the groundbreaking (originally scheduled to begin this past June) has been delayed by at least 18 months, and already some of the amenities promised to the community have been removed to cut costs.”

The city is now saying the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will not begin construction until 2019. Local officials, noted WNYC, have also, “scrapped plans to build… new bridges over the FDR Drive that would have connected public housing residents to the waterfront.”

Back in 2014, the federal government awarded New York City $335 million for the first phase of a larger flood protection plan called the “Big U.” It included flood gates, berms and an enhanced recreational area. In an interview, the mayor’s chief resiliency officer, Daniel Zarrilli, said the city still considers better access to East River Park important, but that there’s not enough money for everything. The delays, added Zarrilli, are due to the complexity of the project.

You can read the full story here, including reaction from locals, and listen to the audio version below. The next waterfront task force meeting takes place Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m., at Gouverneur Health, 227 Madison St.